Recently I wrote an article for Thrive Global on the harmful effects of tanning beds, and one of my readers, Lee Braun, reached out to me. Lee and I chatted and our conversation revealed some lessons that I wanted to share.

Lee Braun is the CEO, President, and Co-Founder of the franchise company Perspire Sauna Studio in Newport Beach, CA. Lee has a background in commercial construction, but when he found an opportunity to help promote healing and wellness with his venture, the sauna, he pursued his passion. At Perspire Sauna Studio locations around the country, guests can improve their mental and physical health with infrared sauna and color light therapy. His goal is for customers to leave feeling better than when they came in.

Lee’s sauna helps many clients who suffer from ailments like Lyme disease, post-chemotherapy treatment, poor circulation, and inflammation. He says that many clients have said their sleep has improved from visiting Perspire regularly. As an internist, I know that these conditions are hard to treat because the long-term health struggles can be crippling to a lot of people. 

Here are some of the key takeaways I gleaned from talking with Lee.

Following your gut instincts

Lee said that his pivot from commercial construction and construction management to the health and wellness industry 11 years ago came about through intuition. “Every time I’ve ignored an opportunity that felt right, it’s blown up in my face. I think bells and whistles go off in your stomach telling you to avoid or run to that opportunity,” Lee says about the decision to invest in a new direction. His major career move seemed brave to me because I couldn’t imagine switching from medicine to, say, engineering. I admire him for raising the stakes in his life, and in the future, I plan to be bolder and less scared of the consequences. 

Staying engaged with friends and family

While Lee moved to California on his own, the rest of his family is still in Michigan. Even though life gets crazy, he always finds the time to put his family first with regular visits back home. He’s very close to his parents, grandparents, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles. When he brought up his family, I immediately thought about the 3 “E’s” that I strive to live by and have written about before: eating healthy, getting exercise, and engaging with people who enrich our lives. Lee reminded me that some of the most important people in my life are my family. And since our conversation, I’ve made an extra effort to reach out to them. 

Over-communicating when a crisis hits: humanity comes first

In our interview, Lee said the biggest lessons that came from the Covid-19 pandemic and his business were to communicate, be flexible, and meet people where they are at. When the pandemic hit, Lee said that his company’s strategy to make it through the worst of it was to over-communicate. 

Instead of holding weekly or monthly meetings, he was meeting daily with franchisees to discuss the issues and solutions. They were able to then reduce the meetings to three times a week, and then once a week. The cadence was the same with his corporate team. 

“We could have spent all the time in the world grieving for the loss of our business, the progress we were giving up, all of that, but you just have to pivot and refocus,” Lee said of the experience. 

Unfortunately, his company had to furlough employees and shut down locations for two months, but he was still able to see the lessons in it. The sauna wasn’t nearly as impacted as other businesses because customers were able to have private sessions in the sauna rooms and they didn’t have to shut their doors for too long, whereas other businesses lost everything. The lesson is to focus on what you can do, and do the best with what the world throws at you. 

Processing grief

The pandemic was hard on everyone, and Lee understands this. His employees and staff all went through a moment of grief together. 

It’s healthy to grieve and acknowledge grief. I had some dark days during the pandemic, especially because I had to self-isolate away from my husband and boys after coming home from work each day. I was able to remind myself of the good in my life, and the healthy physical and mental changes I wanted to make. I will always be grateful for that wake-up call. I can remember that others suffered as well during the pandemic and that some people are still reeling from its effects, whether it is due to a job loss, tragedy, or health problem.

Expressing gratitude

Since the pandemic, Lee has expressed gratitude for the positive. He cited the “Unintended Blessings of Covid”, looking back on the team lunches they would hold on Fridays (they still make time for them). Lee says, “We work with someone or a team, and you can lose sight of the person in the amount of work that gets done, and so it’s important to reconnect and to make that time.” 

I, too, am grateful for my family, the nurses and staff I work with, and patients who remind me to look beyond the sad news headlines and examine my blessings. I love my career, family, and Mediterranean food. I’m also lucky to have online communities that care about me. I can remember to take the time to write down my grateful thoughts and re-read them often.

Creating a wellness routine

I asked him at the end what advice he wanted to impart upon my two sons or the current generation. He said it is imperative for people to create a wellness routine, ideally at a young age. “Making time for yourself and planning out what you want to do, and doing it in a structured manner, is freedom,” Lee says. “It seems like a lot of work, but it helps you go farther, faster.” 

I hope I can encourage my sons to take care of their bodies and do the best I can to be a good example to them.


Luckily, Lee says that his company plans to open a franchise in Carlsbad soon, which is near me. I just might take him up on his offer to visit the sauna and unwind from my workday and take my two boys with me, who complain of aches and pains from soccer practice or from staying active in general. It will be the perfect opportunity to take much-needed personal time for myself in a private, relaxing place. 

If you want to share your thoughts about my conversation with Lee, send us a message. You can find me on Instagram at @ReyzanShali, and Lee on Instagram @leejbraun.